Harris visits Tanzania, hails Samia as 'champion' of democracy

Friday March 31 2023
Kamala Harris and Tanzanian President Samia Hassan

US Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan address a news conference following their meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 30, 2023. PHOTO | ERICKY BONIPHACE | POOL | AFP


US Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday hailed Tanzania's leader Samia Suluhu Hassan as a "champion" of democracy, on the latest leg of her landmark trip to Africa.

Harris, the first Black person and first woman to be elected US vice president, spoke alongside Hassan, Tanzania's first female president who has been rolling back the authoritarian policies of her late predecessor John Magufuli.

Harris said the two would discuss democracy, good governance, long-term economic growth and the climate crisis during her visit to the East African country.

Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu

Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan. PHOTO | PHILL MAGAKOE | AFP

"On the subject of economic growth, good governance delivers predictability, stability and rules which businesses need to invest," Harris said.

"There is so much potential for growth here," she added.


Harris is on a three-nation trip to Africa, the latest push by the US to deepen its engagement with the continent to counter the growing influence of China and Russia.

Read: Harris to address China influence in Africa tour

Hassan’s political reforms

Hassan who marked her second year in office on March 19, has sought to turn the page on Magufuli's hard-line rule, which had tarnished Tanzania's reputation as a stable country in a troubled region.

Earlier this month, she vowed to restore competitive politics and jumpstart a stalled process to review the constitution, a long-held opposition demand.

Hassan in January announced the lifting of a ban on political rallies, paving the way for the return later that month of opposition stalwart Tundu Lissu, after spending most of the past five years in exile.

Tanzania opposition leader Tundu Lissu

Tanzania opposition leader Tundu Lissu is received by his supporters upon his return from exile on January 25, 2023. PHOTO | AFP

TZ bomb victims commemorated

Harris on Thursday also laid a wreath at a memorial commemorating the August 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's economic hub.

The almost simultaneous attacks by al Qaeda in Tanzania and the US embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi left more than 200 people dead and more than 5,000 wounded.

As she wrapped up the first leg of her trip in Ghana on Wednesday, Harris announced an initiative of more than $1 billion to improve women's empowerment in Africa.

Read: Harris urges Africans to empower women

In a speech on Tuesday in Ghana's capital Accra, she had noted three areas of focus Washington believes could benefit from more investments: women's empowerment, the digital economy as well as good governance and democracy.

"We are all in on Africa," she added, repeating US President Joe Biden's declaration at a US-Africa leaders' summit last year.

From Tanzania, Harris heads to Zambia on Friday.